Saturday, July 11, 2015

ട്രാഫിക്‌ (Traffic) (2011)

Director: Rajesh Pillai
Writers:  Bobby, Sanjay
Cast:       Sreenivasan, Kunchacko Boban, Rahman
Language: Malayalam

It is a multi-narrative 'thriller' that intertwines multiple stories around one particular incident which leaves the characters in it with two hours to take a heart meant for transplant from Kochi to Palakkad in under two hours during daytime, a task you know is an impossible one if you are familiar with Kerala roads and traffic. It is inspired from a real life event that happened in Chennai.

First of all this is not about the Steven Soderbergh film with the same name which was an excellent one. Recently in an interview, Alphonse Puthran had stated that 'Traffic' was the film that really kicked off the so-called 'New-Gen' films in Malayalam. It was a big hit and was also received very well by critics. I wasn't too interested to watch it, first of all because there was an influx of multiple-story line films in Malayalam following the success of Traffic and all of them looked like shit from the bits and pieces that I have watched of them and secondly, I am not a big fan of its screenwriters,Bobby-Sanjay duo, who are overrated as hell. Last Vishu, I had the misfortune of catching significant portions of a traffic copycat film called 'God's Own Country' and it is the kind of film that will make you want to bang your head against concrete. It seems Sreenivasan, with his social message bullshit, is a constant fixture in these kind of films. 

Anyway, going into Traffic, I expected it to be a half decent film considering the number of copycats it spawned. After the quite interesting first twenty minutes or so it is such that you can put it into the 'So bad it is good' category. (പകച്ചു പോയി എന്റെ ബാല്യം!!!)  According to its Wikipedia page, it won state award for Best Screenplay and I guess those who gave that award doesn't regard 'Badly written Exposition scenes' to be such a big deal. I really felt for Anoop Menon, who had to execute the bulk of terrible expositions in his role as Police Commissioner in a Traffic control room. It seems the screenwriters were hellbent on how bad they can make it and you get a stream of terrible exposition scenes from all characters at one point or the other. Only good thing about them is that I had a great time watching it due to its unintentionally funny nature. 

Apart from all the rantings about bad expositions, I hate it when they make very unsubtle social commentary on things and for eg; you got a character, who is a radio producer, chiding the RJs for what she construes as political statements in the show and demands that their only consideration should be entertainment. The thing is, in India, private radio channels cannot broadcast news or have any sort of political discussion and this fact could have been easily used in that scene in an intelligent way in stead of the bullshit about entertainment. To top it all, they included a scene to justify the existence of 'Insert a Star's name Fans Association' who in my opinion are significantly responsible for the steep standard fall in Malayalam cinema. In the initial part of the film, Sreenivasan is shown as a traffic cop who is back after a suspension for taking bribe. I thought that was interesting because you don't get morally ambiguous characters typically in Malayalam films. Then, they went about ruining it by having a totally unnecessary flashback later in the film to show that he was forced to take bribe due to an unavoidable reason. I fucking hate this moralizing shit and it is a constant theme in Bobby-Sanjay films from what I have seen. The only interesting film that I have seen of theirs is 'Mumbai Police' even though they fucked it up towards the end. 

So, overall the film is rather bad but you do get plenty of laughs out it because of its lameness. Funny that they missed out on all the hilly parts that you have to get through when you're travelling from Thrissur to Palakkad. In a way it is as if the film was written by two overenthusiastic school kids who think of themselves as very clever. I am not surprised that it did very well because the average Malayalee audience don't mind getting things explained to them and it is pretty common here in Crime mysteries to have the 'Hero'/Police Officer explaining all the things that happened in the story during last ten minutes of the film to a stumped audience of superior officers, when in fact the scene is designed to spoon-feed the audience just in case they didn't fully get all the intricacies involved. I guess that is why enjoyed 'Premam' very much because the director have left plenty of things unresolved for us to work out like: 'Did Malar really have Magnesia?', 'Is Celine younger sister of Mary or just a neighbor?', 'How did Celine know about Malar?' etc...

PS: Less said about the Nivin Pauly cameo, the better...

Rating: 1.5/5